Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Supplement review: MHP Dark Rage/Dark Matter Stack

I’m a serious bodybuilder, as some of you probably know. I know what works and what doesn’t. I’ve waded my way through the BS of the supplement marketing machine, and I think I’ve come out the other side with an effective, streamlined bodybuilding arsenal. But the truth is I always haven’t been like that. Like most other training newbies, I spent the first couple of years wasting a lot of time in the gym. I also spent those couple of years wasting money on ineffective, hyped-up supplements “guaranteed” to get me swoll up like Jay Cutler or Ronnie Coleman. I’ve thrown almost-full bottles of pills and tubs of powder away because it didn’t take me long to realize I’d been had. Now my cash only goes to the tried-and-true core supplements. Obviously, that’s a pretty smart way to approach my bodybuilding nutrition plan, but it’s not that easy. Just as the human body grows accustomed to a training routine and begins to plateau, so it does to the supplements you’re relying on to grow. Most pros and trainers will tell you to switch up your exercise routine every six to eight weeks, but no one ever tells you to switch up your supplement intake.

For the past three years, I’d been relying on Universal Nutrition’s hardcore bodybuilding stack – Animal Pump, Animal Stack and Animal Pack as my pre and post-workout supplements and my multi-vitamin, and they’d been having some killer effects on me. They had always given me the intensity I needed to push that extra bit in the gym. During my last cycle, for the first time in three years, it just wasn’t there. I could tell it was time for a change, so after extensive research and testimonials from other pros, I decided to give MHP’s Dark Rage & Dark Matter a try. I won’t go into the details, ingredients, etc. in the stack, but if you care to see for yourself, click the link at the top of this page. I’m simply going to give you the details of my personal experience during the first few times I take the stack.

Dark Rage:

Designed to give you intense pumps and energy throughout your workout, this supplement 100% lived up to its name. Mixed with 20oz of water, I downed this drink on the way to the gym. I finished it as I was pulling into the parking lot, 20 minutes after I left the office. OK, first observation: It tastes like crap. I got the Cola Fizz flavor, thinking it would be a good change from the orange, grape or cherry that you usually get from pre-workout drinks. OK, bad idea. I mean, it is a supplement, so you can’t expect it to taste all that great, but I expected a little more. Anyway, before I even pulled into the gym, it started to hit me. It really gets the blood flowing, not necessarily in a good way, but very effective. Once it kicked in, it quickly elevated my heart rate and I could feel mu skin warming up. Once I got changed and began my workout though, it was a completely different story.

Every set was freaking insane. My lifts were stronger and more intense. The downside was I had to sit down after each set out of fear that I might fall over. At first, I thought it was a chemical reaction to the ingredients, but I later realized my light-headedness was simply the result pushing my body so hard. The other effect, either from some reaction or again just because I was working out so hard, is that I was sweating profusely. I’m not a sweater, but I was dripping 15 minutes into my workout. Because of this, I was making a trip to the water fountain after every second set. I didn’t mind though because I definitely needed the rest.

I started my workout today with quads, and although this week is my light week (light being a very relative term), I still had some great pumps. The downside is there’s no pushing for that extra rep. It’s 100% from first rep to last, and that last rep doesn’t end until the muscle has nothing left to give. Shoulders were next. I usually get a really good shoulder pump naturally, and it wasn’t any more intense than usual; however, the pump was still there 45 minutes after I got home.

Overall, I think Dark Rage has to get the highest possible rating from me. Yeah, its effects caught me off guard, but I should be used to them after a few workouts. A lot of bodybuilding supplements say “For serious athletes only,” and – until now – I never took that warning seriously. I will say though, if you’re not ready for this, stay away from it.

My rating: ★★★★★

Dark Matter:

Dark Matter is a post-workout recovery mix that combines Waxy Maize with protein and BCAAs. Since there’s really not a noticeable physical reaction to taking it, I won’t be able to truly judge its effectiveness for a week or so. Stay tuned for the review.